Michael Blanding
Michael Blanding

A lecture and book signing featuring author Michael Blanding is scheduled for Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in the Zimmerman Library Willard Room. The lecture will feature maps from the University Libraries’ Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections. The event is free and open to the public.

In The Map Thief, award-winning investigative reporter Michael Blanding tells the true-life story of a map dealer–turned-criminal E. Forbes Smiley III, who stole more than $3 million worth of antique maps from rare-book libraries around the country.

Smiley was ultimately caught in 2005 when a librarian spotted a razor blade he dropped on the floor at Yale University, leading to the unraveling of his deceptions. Blanding will discuss exclusive new information about the case – including some gleaned through the first-ever interview with Smiley himself ­– that paints a psychological portrait of a man driven by desperation to betray his friends and colleagues.

In addition to talking about Smiley’s thefts, Blanding will also talk about the history behind the maps he stole, and the continuing implications for library security.

Michael Blanding is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute of Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. His work has appeared in WIRED, Slate, The Nation, The New Republic, The Boston Globe Magazine, and Boston, among other publications. His first book, The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World's Favorite Soft Drink, was published by Avery/Penguin in 2010.

His latest, The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps, was published by Gotham Books in June 2014, and released in paperback in June 2015. The book has been named a New York Times bestseller, an NPR Book of the Year, a New England Society Book Award winner, and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize and the Massachusetts Book Awards.

The Willard Lecture Series
The Willard Lecture Series, established in honor of Larry Willard, features exciting speakers highlighting collections from the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, the work of University of New Mexico scholars and topics impacting today’s changing libraries and their impact on the world of academics and research.